Article Courtesy of The Herald-Tribune
By Chris Wille
Published June 17, 2018
A hearing set on the legality of Longboard Key’s
SARASOTA — The battle over the shuttered and decrepit Colony Beach & Tennis
Resort continues with another lawsuit.
Condominium owners Andy Adams and Sheldon and Carol Rabin are challenging
the validity of the Town of Longboat Key’s emergency demolition order issued
May 31. The suit also questions the constitutionality of the application of
the town’s demolition code in this case.
The suit seeks a temporary injunction to stop the town from proceeding with
the order until a hearing is held before the 12th Judicial Circuit Court.
That hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The lawsuit filed Friday by the Law Offices of Lobeck and
Hanson contends that the town’s emergency demolition code
violates the plaintiffs’ due-process rights and “constitutes
an impermissible taking of their property without adequate
and proper notice and an opportunity to be heard.” The order
stipulated that demolition could occur on or after June 15.
“The principal objection is the emergency nature of this
notice,” Dan Lobeck said. The property must threaten
“imminent danger” to the public. “Those emergency conditions
don’t exist here.”
Andy Adams owns 70 of the property’s 237 condo units under
his Colony Beach Investors LLC. The Rabins own two.
Longboat Key issued the emergency order for the buildings at the vermin- and
termite-infested resort after deeming the condos to be “unsafe and unfit.”
The town commissioned an independent engineering firm to examine the
buildings on three occasions, and the reports stated that the Colony site
was a public nuisance with dangerous structures in unsafe conditions.
Once a world-class destination, the Colony collapsed in a legal quagmire
about a decade ago, was closed and continued to deteriorate.
As required by the town demolition code, the building official and fire
marshal determined the conditions of the structures threatened the public’s
health, safety and welfare.
But the owners’ lawsuit argues that “imminent” danger to citizens does not
exist because the town requires the entire property to be fenced, and the
resort’s governing condominium association bans entry by both the public and
An engineer’s report attached to the lawsuit concedes that the units have
deteriorated but found “no rational basis” for complete demolition in 10
days. The owners argue that the buildings “are in no way in danger of
‘imminent collapse’ and do not otherwise meet the requirements for emergency
demolition ... even if that section of the town’s code could be lawfully
Allen Parsons, the town’s Planning, Zoning and Building director, said
Saturday that the demolition was necessary. “The town’s foremost priority
remains the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and visitors. The
town is proceeding with actions to help ensure that, following all
Also on Saturday, Chuck Whittall, founder and president of Orlando-based
Unicorp National Developments, said the company is making progress in its
plan to build a 166-room-hotel, 78-condominium St. Regis Hotel and
Residences at the site. The Town of Longboat Key approved the Unicorp
proposal in mid-March. The company already owns about 67 percent of the
condominiums as well as 95 percent of the recreational and commercial
Other lawsuits, one filed by Adams, one by the Rabins, contend that Unicorp
must have the consent of all owners and lien holders as state statutes
But Whittall is proceeding with a lawsuit that would strip the holdout
owners of the ability to halt the redevelopment of the property by
dissolving the condo association without its members’ consent on the grounds
that the property is decrepit and a threat to public safety. A favorable
ruling on those grounds would supersede the usual procedure that requires 95
percent of the members to agree to terminate the association.
The association board has already signed a development agreement with
But Whittall’s suit seeks “judicial termination,” Lobeck said. The statute
that allows that kind of termination also requires a public sale. Whether
Unicorp would accept the highest bid to gain control of the property is a
matter of conjecture.
At one point, Whittall offered to pay $170,000 for each condo, with an extra
$100,000 for units in the midrise building and a $200,000 bonus for
beachfront units — a $40 million-plus package.
Blake Fleetwood, who had been rejecting buyout offers and opposed the
proposed redevelopment of the once-renowned resort, sold his two beachfront
units to Unicorp in a contract signed several weeks ago.
One sold for $370,801, the other for $170,851, according to public warrant
“I settled because the town attorney’s illegal and odious campaign to
trample the rights of homeowners and force them out is too powerful for one
person to resist,” he said Monday. “This is not unusual. All across the
country towns seek, in the name of economic development, to condemn
perfectly viable neighborhoods as blighted so they can enrich a private
Fleetwood’s contract also stipulates that he would waive his power to appeal
the town commission’s decision to authorize the redevelopment of the
17.6-acre tract. He also resigned from the board of the Colony’s condominium
association, relinquishing his ability to influence decisions about the
“This is a real tragedy for 237 homeowners who lost their life’s savings,”
The Adams-Rabin lawsuit implores the court to take jurisdiction over the
case, stating: “Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law and require the
assistance AND intervention of this court to protect their property
Lobeck said his goal is a court ruling that forces the issue back to the
Longboat Key commission.